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Anti-Semitism in the European Union: Portugal

(Updated December 2003)

In Portugal (total population: 10 million) there is no tradition of anti-Semitism in recent times. Apart from a period of some tension between Salazar’s regime and the Portuguese Jewish community – that never resulted in persecution – in the recent past the small Jewish community (700 people) has been assimilated and accepted by Portuguese society. After the dawn of democracy, Jews were totally accepted as another religious minority and its religion is protected under the act acknowledging religious plurality.

1. Physical acts of violence

In July the Lisbon synagogue was vandalised and sacred objects scattered on the floor.

2. Verbal aggression/hate speech

Direct threats

There are no reports of complaints neither by the Jewish community, the press, NGOs nor other media.


The Israel Embassy has received slanderous calls and Internet messages with offensive content.


There are no reports of physical or material threats against the Jewish community and its property.


The Israeli Embassy reported that their flag in the “Nations Park”, located where the World Expo took place in 1998 and now a major social meeting place in Lisbon, was vandalised. Several Nazi swastikas and other insults appeared on the flag platform.


No material of this kind was reported to have appeared in circulation. The Jewish community, as expressed through its representative, considered an e-mail sent by a professor of the Trás-os-Montes University the main anti-Semitic event in the monitored period. In this e-mail, addressing the conflict in the Middle East, a phrase stated “If there are any good Jews (which I doubt) (…)”. Another professor of the same university alerted the Portuguese Jewish community about this e-mail, who in turn then revealed it to the press, where it was published in the newspaper Público.

Public discourse

On a visit to Israel, the Nobel Prize winner José Saramago declared to Portuguese radio station Antenna 1, that “It must be said that in Palestine, there is a crime which we can stop. We may compare it with what happened at Auschwitz”. While visiting Ramallah and Arafat with members of the International Parliament of Writers, Saramago stated that the Israeli blockade of Ramallah is "in the spirit of Auschwitz," and "this place is being turned into a concentration camp."


Several Portuguese Nazi sites appeared in 2002 on the Internet. Some of them have anti-Semitic declarations and articles. However, these are translations of anti-Semitic articles written in other countries, mainly from the US. No explicit threats to the Portuguese Jewish community were found in any of these sites (at least in the period monitored). One particular site has more explicit anti-Semitic allusions: Movimento da Reconstrução Nacional Socialista Atlântico (Atlantic Movement for the National Socialist Reconstruction). At this site one can find several links to further national and foreign National Socialist sites. The majority of the anti-Semitic sites are Brazilian; and though we can also find Portuguese fascist and nationalist sites, they do not display anti-Semitic references.

3. Research studies

There is no recent report on anti-Semitic aggression or attitudes.

4. Good practices for reducing prejudice, violence and aggression

There are no reported examples of good practices.

5. Reactions by politicians and other opinion leaders

The President recently participated in the 100-year celebrations for the Lisbon Synagogue. On that occasion the President stated that Portugal should pay more attention to Jewish culture and to its several famous names, claiming that they are an integral part of Portuguese history. The main newspapers broadcasted the celebrations and printed the President’s address.

Sources: C.R.I.F. - Released by the European Jewish Congress